Modernizing neighbors: Turkish-Iranian relations from the interwar period to the Early Cold War
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After the establishment of the Turkish Republic and the Pahlavi dynasty, Turkish-Iranian bilateral relations reached their peak under the leaderships of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Reza Shah Pahlavi. Then, the premiership of Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran (1951-1953) was an era during which the bilateral relations were tested. This study deals with the factors behind these two distinctive periods in the inter-state relations. Taking into consideration the development of the nationalist ideology as an important political force in the hands of both the nationalist-modernist regimes of the interwar period and for Mossadegh’s popular national movement, I have sought to explain the different articulations of the nationalist ideology in Turkey and Iran before and after WWII. As the findings of this study show, nationalism in interwar Turkey and Iran emerged as an official state ideology which aimed to establish state authority across the country. Each state’s commitment to the idea of the nation-state and to the sovereignty of the other proved to be significant in close relations. After WWII, Turkish nationalism evolved to take on an anti-communist identity. On the other hand, the rising tide of nationalism, anti-imperialism, and communism led up to the nationalization of Iranian oil in 1951. The early Cold War years marked a divergence in the interpretations of the nationalist ideology in Turkey and Iran, and ideological divergence contributed to the weakening of bilateral relations.